They started with shoestring capital but the business they run today has changed their lives and the lives of those around UTAMU campus in some way. Almost every big business today began as a startup–Apple, Google, Starbucks, you name it.
In the beginning, most of them also had a petty budget and little investor interest. If you’re thinking of starting a business or you’re already in the process, you could probably use a little inspiration.
“There was a problem of uneven distribution of eating joints or restaurants around UTAMU Campus. I and other students had to pace up and about just to catch a meal. This made me think something can be done to change the status quo”, Kenneth Twesigye, one of the proprietors of Fortune Spices Canteen intimates.
My friends and I sat down and discussed and thought through the idea. It wasn’t before long that Fortune Spices Canteen was unveiled.
It is currently the only canteen around campus where students and staff can be sure to get a soft drink, a snack, fruits and other items without trekking distances.
Kenneth Twesigye, one of the brains behind the Fortune Spices Canteen establishment says they started off with only Uganda Shillings 140,000 two years ago. The business which then capitalized on selling soft drinks today offers a variety of products including fast foods, fruits, a variety of snacks, stationery, soft drinks name it.
This group of determined innovative students wanted to be more than just students at campus. While most university students tend to live beyond their means by spending every penny they come across, this team’s dream was to earn bucks even when they are still studying. They say at first they never ever imagined that such a small startup would turn out to bring in some good money.
Twesigye works with a team of five other students who include; Tryphine Aineomugisha, James Tumwiine, Amos Karugaba, Eric Olinga Rene, Keneth Twesigye and the Guild Government under-which the business operates.
“We started in an open space but as I speak, we secured an enclosed place in the university where our canteen is housed. We are planning to expand our business”, he acknowledges.
Like any other business, Fortune Spices Canteen has had its share of challenges and suffered from some setbacks including debt management, record keeping and business accounts, negative stakeholders’ influence, inexperienced recruits that require close supervision.
Kenneth however is quick to disclose that none of these challenges had made him regret why he started the business. “In fact each new day, we become much stronger, more united and determined to overcome any stumbling blocks”.
Asked what he projects the business to be like five years from now, Twesigye says the culture of saving and investing amongst university students at UTAMU will have been fully cultivated. He says his dream is to see more students sign up for startups and this is the message he intends to preach. He says he also hopes to have motivated at least 30 students to realize their business potential explaining that the idea of waiting to graduate and start searching for a job is way too old fashioned.
“We cannot be seen to act ancient when we are in the 21st Century. Each new day, we are empowered with skills to be innovative and not to just sit back and wait to get jobs.
He advises students to be creative and work towards leaving a legacy beyond just being a student in a University. He believes each one is talented in their own way and can do something to uplift their financial status. “It starts with you today and not tomorrow. Start thinking of how your future will be like. Your guardian is doing his/her job, are you equally doing yours? He rhetorically asks.
Twesigye believes that Business and Technology are a perfect match for students to soar beyond horizons.
Some of values that has made Fortune Spice Canteen thrive in a very short time are persistence and patience. He also cannot underestimate the support to this noble cause from his fellow students. He proudly identifies his team as young and upcoming entrepreneurs
The story attests to the fact that you don’t need a ton of money to necessarily kick start your small business. You do, however, need to fill a gap in the market and–if possible–offer something that’s never been seen before.
To this new breed of entrepreneurs, not even the sky will limit them for their determination is precisely unstoppable. These folks may not be where they want to be but in the meantime, they have found success because they saw a need that required to be addressed and had the skill to provide the right solution.
The team is inspired by young and successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and they believe if their skills and competencies are pooled and optimally utilized, a business empire will unquestionably be established in their name.
And like Scott Belsky, an American entrepreneur, author and early stage investor known for the online portfolio platform put it “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”